In this lesson, students begin reading Hamlet’s first soliloquy in which he laments his situation and mourns for his father. Consider the impact of Shakespeare’s choice to introduce Hamlet from two perspectives, first from Claudius’s point of view, then in his own words.
- fie (interjection)
- sullied (adj.)
- canon (n.)
- might not beteem (phrase)
Listen / Read
Read the entire soliloquy, Act 1.2, lines 133–164 (from “O that this too, too sullied flesh would melt” to “But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue”). Listen for what the audience learns about Hamlet’s emotions in these lines.
[dialogues, monologues, soliloquies]
Answer the following questions
A. Lines 133–136 (from “O that this too, too sullied flesh would melt” to “His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God, God”):
- Summarize lines 133–134.
Who or what is “the Everlasting” in line 135?
What reason does Hamlet give for not committing “self-slaughter” (line 136)?
Describe Hamlet’s tone in lines 133–136. Support your description with evidence from the text.
B. Lines 137–141 (from “How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable / Seem to me” to “Things rank and gross in nature / Possess it merely”):
How does Hamlet view the world in lines 137–141? Cite textual evidence to support your answer.
C. Lines 141–149 (from “That it should come to this: / But two months dead” to “As if increase of appetite had grown / By what it fed on”):
- What does the audience learn about Hamlet’s father in lines 142–143?
How does Claudius compare to his father, in Hamlet’s view (lines 143–144)?
How did Hamlet’s father treat his mother?
What does Hamlet’s use of imagery in lines 147–149 imply about his mother’s love for his father?
How does Hamlet feel about his situation? Provide evidence from lines 133–149.
- Review your Quick Writes from Lessons 2 and 3. What new or different information did you learn about the character of Hamlet in this soliloquy?
Quick Write (10-15 minute paragraph)
Respond briefly in writing to the following prompt:
- Based on this lesson’s reading and your Quick Writes from Lessons 2 and 3, what is the impact of Shakespeare’s choice to introduce Hamlet through Claudius’s monologue and Hamlet’s soliloquy?
Use this lesson’s vocabulary wherever possible and use the Short Response Rubric and Checklist to guide your written responses.